Ian’s Bird of the Week – Squatter Pigeon

Squatter Pigeon (Geophaps scripta) by Ian

Ian’s Bird of the Week – Squatter Pigeon

~ by Ian Montgomery

Newsletter – 12-18-14

The series of raptors from Europe is perhaps a hard act to follow, so here is something quite different from much closer to (my) home: the Squatter Pigeon,an attractive ground pigeon not uncommon in the drier areas of northern Queensland. Its range used to extend to northern New South Wales, but it is very rare or extinct there and has declined in southern areas of Queensland. The reasons for its decline are not clear but is thought to be due to grazing pressure and perhaps predation by foxes and feral cats.

Toonpan, a short drive south of Townsville on the Flinders Highway is a good spot for this species. When Ross River Dam was built, part of the highway between Toonpan and Townsville was flooded and a new highway was built on higher ground. The old highway still exists and is a quiet roadway through grassland, popular with birders. The habitat in the second photo – taken from the ebook Where to Find Birds in North Queensland – may look uninspiring, but can be very productive often producing other such specialties such as Australian Bustard, various finches including Black-throated and, in winter on powerlines, Red-backed Kingfishers.

Mt Elliot from Old Flinders Highway, Toonpan, by IanIt’s not clear where the name Squatter Pigeon came from, presumably either from its habit of crouching and freezing when disturbed or because of its association with the cattle stations, the original occupants of which were called squatters. It was originally named by the Dutch zoologist Temminck in 1821 and he seemed very taken with it. Like Bonelli in the previous Bird of the Week, he published in French, calling it the Colombe marquetée and describing how each patch of white on the face was framed with black, producing an effect like ‘a sort of marquetry. He gave it the scientific name Geophaps scripta, meaning ‘ground pigeon with writing’, ‘phaps’ being the Greek for pigeon. Temminck, incidentally, named many species of animals and various others were named in his honour, such a Temminck’s Stint.

Squatter Pigeon (Geophaps scripta) by Ian

Sometimes you can see the iridescent feathers on the wing, third photo, a display feature shared with other ground pigeons notably the Bronzewings These feathers are usually hidden in Squatter Pigeons except in display and flight. The body shape is broken up by the white stripe between the breast and the wings, and the black and white facial markings disguise the head and make the eye less conspicuous. Squatter Pigeons nest in a scrape on the ground, so camouflage is important and it is easy to appreciate that a motionless bird crouching on the ground would be quite hard to spot.

Squatter Pigeon (Geophaps scripta) by Ian

If you look carefully at both bare facial skin of both the Toonpan bird and the one in the third photo taken much farther west along the Flinders Highway, you’ll see the the skin is mainly pale blue around the eye with some pink at the edges in front and behind the eye. Two races of Squatter Pigeon have been described, with the nominate southern race having completely blue facial skin – fourth photo near Carnarvon Gorge – and a Cape York race peninsulae having reddish facial skin. The two races are not geographically well-defined and there is a broad band of intergradation with mixed blue and pink in the Townsville area.

Squatter Pigeon (Geophaps scripta) by Ian

Photos five and six show examples of the Cape York race. Both Marys Farms and the Mitchell River catchment are in the Mount Carbine district south of Cape York proper. The bird in the last photo is perched fairly high in a tree, just to prove that it will sometimes take refuge in trees.

Squatter Pigeon (Geophaps scripta) by Ian

It is the blue-faced southern race that has declined most and is regarded as ‘vulnerable’. The Cape York race and the hybrids in the Townsville district are still reasonably common. The Partridge Pigeon, G. smithii, replaces it in northwestern Australia. It also has races with different coloured faces, red in the Top End of the Northern Territory and yellow in the Kimberley district of northern Western Australia. It has also declined. Although I have seen it in Kakadu National Park I haven’t yet photographed it.

Greetings
Ian

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Ian Montgomery, Birdway Pty Ltd,
454 Forestry Road, Bluewater, Qld 4818
Tel 0411 602 737 ian@birdway.com.au
Bird Photos http://www.birdway.com.au/
Recorder Society http://www.nqrs.org.au


Lee’s Addition:

“Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves. (Matthew 10:16 KJV)

I like the markings on their faces. They are interesting, yet, it doesn’t keep them from being camouflaged.

The Squatter Pigeons belong to the Columbidae – Pigeons, Doves Family. (Only bird named Squatter in IOC 4.4 list)

“The Squatter Pigeon (southern) is a medium-sized, ground-dwelling pigeon that measures approximately 30 cm in length and weighs about 190-250 g. The adults are predominantly grey-brown, but have black and white stripes on the face and throat, blue-grey skin around the eyes, dark-brown (and some patches of iridescent green or violet) on the upper surfaces of the wings, blue-grey on the lower breast and belly, white on the lower region, flanks of the belly and extending onto the under surfaces of the wings, and a blackish-brown band along the trailing edge of the tail. They have black bills, dark-brown irises, and dull-purple legs and feet. The sexes are similar in appearance (Higgins & Davies 1996).

Juvenile Squatter Pigeons (southern) can be distinguished from the adults by their duller colouring, the patchy, less distinctive appearance of their black and white facial stripes, and the paler colouring (buff to pale-yellow) of the facial skin (Higgins & Davies 1996).

The southern and northern subspecies of the Squatter Pigeon are virtually identical except the southern subspecies tends to be slightly larger in the body, and the skin around the eyes is predominantly blue-grey compared to yellowy-orange to orange-red in the northern subspecies (Crome 1976b; Ford 1986; Higgins & Davies 1996; Squatter Pigeon Workshop 2011).” (from Australian Government)

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Found a YouTube of Squatter Pigeons

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Birds of the Bible – Dove and Pigeon Distribution

 

Eared Dove (Zenaida auriculata) by Robert Scanlon

Eared Dove (Zenaida auriculata) by Robert Scanlon

Also he sent forth a dove from him, to see if the waters were abated from off the face of the ground; (Genesis 8:8 KJV)

Doves and Pigeons are mentioned many times throughout Scripture. When people all over the world read about them in their Bible, they probably have an idea of what that bird looks like. Why?

“Pigeons and doves are distributed everywhere on Earth, except for the driest areas of the Sahara Desert, Antarctica and its surrounding islands and the high Arctic. They have colonised most of the world’s oceanic islands, reaching eastern Polynesia and the Chatham Islands in the Pacific, Mauritius, the Seychelles and Réunion in the Indian Ocean, and the Azores in the Atlantic Ocean.” (Wikipedia)

They appear almost everywhere. During the time of sacrifices to God, before Jesus Christ became the perfect Sacrifice for our sins; doves, turtle dove and young pigeons were accepted. Just as salvation is available to all, there were birds available, no matter where you were.

Eurasian Collared Dove (Streptopelia decaocto) by Dan

Eurasian Collared Dove (Streptopelia decaocto) by Dan

Why are they so plentiful?

“The family has adapted to most of the habitats available on the planet. These species may be arboreal, terrestrial or semiterrestrial. Various species also inhabit savannas, grasslands, deserts, temperate woodlands and forests, mangrove forests, and even the barren sands and gravels of atolls.”

Zebra Dove (Geopelia striata) by Margaret Sloan

Zebra Dove (Geopelia striata) has been widely introduced around the world – by Margaret Sloan

Are the Doves and Pigeons called by the same name? No. As they have reproduced and moved to the different areas (distribution), the number of species have grown.

“Some species have large natural ranges. The Eared Dove ranges across the entirety of South America from Colombia to Tierra Del Fuego, the Eurasian Collared Dove has a massive (if discontinuous) distribution from Britain across Europe, the Middle East, India, Pakistan and China, and the Laughing Dove across most of sub-Saharan Africa, as well as India, Pakistan and the Middle East. Other species have a tiny, restricted distribution; this is most common in island endemics. The Whistling Dove is endemic to the tiny Kadavu Island in Fiji, the Caroline Ground-dove is restricted to two islands, Truk and Pohnpei in the Caroline Islands, and the Grenada Dove is restricted to Grenada in the Caribbean. Some continental species also have tiny distributions; for example, the Black-banded Fruit Dove is restricted to a small area of the Arnhem Land of Australia, the Somali Pigeon is restricted to a tiny area of northern Somalia, and Moreno’s Ground Dove is restricted to the area around Salta and Tucuman in northern Argentina.”

Rock Dove (Columba livia) by Ian

Rock Dove (Columba livia) by Ian

 And he said unto him, Take me an heifer of three years old, and a she goat of three years old, and a ram of three years old, and a turtledove, and a young pigeon. (Genesis 15:9 KJV)

“The largest range of any species is that of the Rock Dove or Rock Pigeon. This species had a large natural distribution from Britain and Ireland to northern Africa, across Europe, Arabia, Central Asia, India, the Himalayas and up into China and Mongolia. The range of the species increased dramatically upon domestication, as the species went feral in cities around the world. The species is currently resident across most of North America, and has established itself in cities and urban areas in South America, sub-Saharan Africa, Southeast Asia, Japan, Australia and New Zealand. The species is not the only pigeon to have increased its range due to the actions of man; several other species have become established outside of their natural range after escaping captivity, and other species have increased their natural ranges due to habitat changes caused by human activity.”

The “Pigeon” (Columba livia) is known by many names because of the different languages spoken, yet they all refer to the same bird. The scientific name,  Columba livia, refers to only that bird, no matter what they call it.

Here are some examples:

English:
Rock Pigeon
Czech:
holub skalní
German:
Felsentaube
Danish:
Klippedue
Spanish:
Paloma Bravía
Finnish:
kalliokyyhky
French:
Pigeon biset
Icelandic:
Bjargdúfa
Italian:
Piccione selvatico
Japanese:
kawarabato
Japanese:
カワラバト(ドバト)
Dutch:
Rotsduif
Norwegian:
Klippedue (Domestisert: Bydue)
Polish:
gołąb miejski
Portuguese:
Pombo-doméstico
Portuguese (Brazil):
Pombo-doméstico
Russian:
Сизый голубь
Slovak:
holub divý
Swedish:
Klippduva
Chinese:
原鸽

(Adapted from the Wikipedia’s “Columbidae” page, especially the “Distribution and Habitat” section.)

Banded Fruit Dove (Ptilinopus cinctus) by Ian

Banded Fruit Dove (Ptilinopus cinctus) by Ian

The flowers appear on the earth; The time of singing has come, And the voice of the turtledove Is heard in our land. (Song of Solomon 2:12 NKJV)

Oriental Turtle Dove (Streptopelia orientalis) by Nikhil

Oriental Turtle Dove (Streptopelia orientalis) by Nikhil

The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world. (John 1:29 KJV)

As mentioned above, if a person could not afford a lamb or ram, then Turtle Dove and Pigeons were accepted. They were plentiful and available. Since the Lord paid the ultimate sacrifice for our sin, the need to use these birds is no longer needed. As a birdwatcher, I am thankful. As a Christian, I am most thankful for the Lord’s sacrifice for my sins.

Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. (John 14:6 KJV)

See:

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Birds of the Bible – How Many Are There? I

Chihuahuan Raven (Corvus cryptoleucus)Raven (Corvus corax) by Kent Nickell

Northern Raven (Corvus corax) by Kent Nickell

The list of the Birds of the Bible varies according to which version of the Bible you use. We have discussed this in other articles, but don’t think I ever actually listed them all. An article from Birding and the Bible says there are 29 and then questions 2 of them, the Glede and the Ossifrage, adding the Swift, his lists is 28 or 29.

The sidebar here has links to 33 pages of Bible Birds. There are a few more I am considering adding. After this study, I may find even more. I am going to write this as I do my research using my e-Sword program (free). Currently, I have quite a few versions of the Scriptures loaded and want to see what is listed. (Disclaimer About Bible Version Usage) Let’s get started.

The very first reference to birds or fowls, is in Genesis 1:21. That is where God created “every winged fowl after his kind” (KJV) or ” every winged bird according to its kind” (NKJV). Most agree with, “And God saw that it was good.” Here are some of the other ways of stating it:

  • “winged creature feathered  according to type.” (ABP+)
  • “every creature that flies with wings according to its kind,” (Brenton)
  • “every kind of bird that flies in the air.” (ERV)
  • ” all kinds of birds.” (GNB)
  • “He created every kind of bird that flies.” (NIrV)

So basically, all agree that the birds or fowls were created after their kind or type on the fifth day (1:23) and that God saw that it was good. That right there includes all the major families of birds, some have become extinct, some which interbred within their kinds, etc. until today we now have over 10,000 named species of birds. (Birds of the World)

In Genesis 1:25 God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion” over birds, etc. The term his is given as “dominion over”, “have rule over”, “power over” (GNB), “be masters over” (ISV), “So they can be responsible for” (MSG).

Then in Genesis 2:20, Adam named the birds that the LORD God brought to him. The version all agree that they are birds or fowls or the air or heavens.

In chapter 3, Adam and Eve sin against God and we all come under the judgement including the critters, birds included. By chapter 6, things are so bad that the LORD tells Noah to bring two of every kind of critter into the Ark and then in 6:20, the birds are again mentioned. They are to be preserved in pairs of sevens. Again, no specific named bird is mentioned throughout chapter 6 or 7.

Eurasian Collared Dove (Streptopelia decaocto) by Lee

During and after the Flood, then we finally here of specific named birds. The first bird named in the Bible is the Raven. Noah opened the window of the ark and “sent forth a raven” and it flew back and forth “until the waters were dried up from off the earth.” (KJV) Other than spelling differences, they all agree on the Raven. The same is true of verse 8 where the Dove was released. The Dove kept coming back until the waters were totally dried up. The third time it was released, it did not return.

So now we have 2 Birds of the Bible – the Raven and the Dove.

The next reference to birds is in 9:2 where the birds now have a fear of humans placed on them. They, the birds, are told to multiply and fill the earth and are given a covenant or promise by God that the earth would never be destroyed by a worldwide flood again. Gen 9:10-17 – the Rainbow.

And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth, and upon every fowl of the air, upon all that moveth upon the earth, and upon all the fishes of the sea; into your hand are they delivered. (Genesis 9:2 KJV)

King Vulture Brevard Zoo 120913 by Lee

King Vulture Brevard Zoo by Lee

In Genesis 15:9 we find the next birds, a Turtledove, young pigeon and in 15:11, the vultures. Two are sacrificed birds, the other is coming to take from the alter.

So He said to him, “Bring Me a three-year-old heifer, a three-year-old female goat, a three-year-old ram, a turtledove, and a young pigeon.” Then he brought all these to Him and cut them in two, down the middle, and placed each piece opposite the other; but he did not cut the birds in two. And when the vultures came down on the carcasses, Abram drove them away. (Genesis 15:9-11 NKJV)

Let’s see how these birds are given in the various translations. “dove” several, “turtle” (DRB), “mourning dove” (GW), “even a nestling” (LITV), and “young bird” (YLT). Most are in agreement with spelling differences from the old English of some of the translations.

Verse 11 has: birds of prey, birds, fowls, large birds (DRB), swoopers (ECB), Vultures (GNB, MSG, NKJV), and ravenous birds (YLT). Never heard of “swoopers”, so I guess that one doesn’t count. What you think? They all realize that some birds came swooping down trying to get at the sacrifice, but Abram drove them away.

Our list of Birds of the Bible so far:

Also mentioned:

  • Swooper (Gen 15:11)

For now, that is enough. To be continued in Part II.

Birds of the Bible

Wordless Birds

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Birds of the World – Kingfishers, Australasian Warblers, White-Eyes and Doves

Blue-breasted Kingfisher (Halcyon malimbica) at LPZ by Lee

Blue-breasted Kingfisher (Halcyon malimbica) at LPZ by Lee – taken last week

Many, O LORD my God, are thy wonderful works which thou hast done, and thy thoughts which are to us-ward: they cannot be reckoned up in order unto thee: if I would declare and speak of them, they are more than can be numbered. (Psalms 40:5 KJV)

I have been working away on the different families of the Birds of the World. In the last few days, I was able to complete three more families at 100% and have one that needs five more images. Three of them have at least a photo or drawing of each of them. 100% done. That is a nice feeling. What beautiful birds are in those families. When the Lord created the birds, He used much variety in sizes, behaviors and colors. Even though it takes lots of time, it is enjoyable to be able to view so many of them. I am keeping an Excel spreadsheet of the families that shows each family, the number of species, how many are needed, and number seen so far. There are “10,476 extant species and 149 extinct species classified in 40 Orders,  231 Families (plus 6 Incertae Sedis) and 2268 Genera.” (IOC 3.3 Version) according to the IOC statement. Yet, when you add up the number of species of each family, they add up to 10,615. (10476+149=10,625) Somewhere there are 10 miscounted birds. Either way (10615 or 10,625), thats a lot of birds that are flying around the world for all of us to enjoy watching.

100 Percent of Images

Alcedinidae – Kingfishers – 95 Species

Acanthizidae – Australasian Warblers – 65 Species

Zosteropidae – White-eyes – 128 Species

The Pigeon and Doves have five photos that need to be found. After extensive search, they are still avoiding all the great photographers and artists out there. If any know of a source for these evaders, please leave a comment as to where to find a link to them. At least looking through these inspired the Birds of the Bible – Coat of Many Colors article.

Columbidae – Pigeons, Doves – 335 Species

** Need Photo **

  • Ryukyu Wood Pigeon (Columba jouyi †) Extinct
  • Rodrigues Pigeon (Nesoenas rodericana †) Extinct
  • Sulu Bleeding-heart (Gallicolumba menagei)
  • Mindanao Brown Dove (Phapitreron brunneiceps) 
  • Comoros Green Pigeon (Treron griveaudi)

Below are a few of the birds from each family.

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Click on any of the Families to see the complete list of the species.

Alcedinidae – Kingfishers 

Acanthizidae – Australasian Warblers 

Zosteropidae – White-eyes

Columbidae – Pigeons, Doves

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Wordless Birds

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